Water lines freeze as frost dives deeper

Posted: Wednesday, April 04, 2007


  City of Soldotna employee Rick Wood lifts a manhole cover on Marydale Ave to see how deep the frost is penetrating city streets.

City of Soldotna employee Rick Wood lifts a manhole cover on Marydale Ave to see how deep the frost is penetrating city streets.

According to Rick Wood with the City of Soldotna, the combination of warm sunny days and lingering cold nights continues to drive frost deeper into the ground causing water and sewer lines to freeze. “At the moment, we’re pushing nearly a hundred reported water and sewer freeze-ups,” Wood told the Dispatch last week,.“What we’re recommending for people with city service who have had problems in the past is to let their water continually run in their house for the next month or so,” said Wood. However, Wood added for those on their own water and septic system leaving the water running inside the house is not recommended as it could hydraulically overload the septic system causing leach field failure and costly repairs, “If on your own system, you could run a hose from an outside faucet if you have a good environment for the runoff which could prevent a water line freeze from the well to your house. But it could build up and run back into your house or someone else’s, so you want to be sure you know where the runoff is going.” He also cautioned those with city service who leave their water running inside to be sure someone is home in the evenings to keep an eye out in case the sewer freezes where the water is running which could cause back up and flooding in the house, “We have had about a dozen sewer freeze ups at this time and most of those have been without much damage, except one where a family left the water running while being out on vacation,” said Wood.

Wood also recommends that all property owners know where their water shut off is located,.“It’s usually in the right of way next to your property line going out toward the street. You can request a copy of the as built permit from the city that will show you exactly where the key box is located so that if you have a freeze up on the weekend you won’t have to wait or pay overtime to have someone from the city come out to locate it for you. It’s a good idea to keep that permit where it’s handy, like in the door of your electric panel, so it’s easy to find in case of a freeze,” suggested Wood.

Even with pipe thawing professionals and welders reporting two day waiting lists, Wood seriously recommends that no one other than a professional attempt to thaw their own pipes, “If the system isn’t properly grounded the current can work itself back into the electrical panel which can cause a house fire. I’ve seen at least four house fires caused by friends attempting to help someone thaw their pipes who just made a small error, so unless you are a trained professional don’t take the risk of turning a minor problem into a major tragedy,” added Wood. Wood doesn’t expect the frost risk to be over until the 1st of May or later depending on weather conditions.

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